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Home Wi-Fi Network Security

by: Yul Kwon

October 15, 2010

As you may have heard, October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and throughout the month the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other government agencies are providing information for consumers to better protect themselves while online. I'm happy to be able to pass along some critical information to you regarding wireless (or "Wi-Fi") network security. I even narrated a video

to help educate consumers about the importance of securing wireless networks.  We're disseminating this information through several formats: this post, a video, a fact sheet and a checklist. This information, as well as much more to come, is available on www.fcc.gov/consumers. We also have links to other important cybersecurity information, including guides provided by the Federal Trade Commission and the National Cyber Security Alliance.

Many of us use Wi-Fi networks at home as a convenient way to connect computers, laptops, and other devices to the Internet through a wireless router. Wi-Fi is great because it doesn't require a tangle of wires and a fixed location to access the Internet. You're free to roam your home and oftentimes your patio, backyard, and porch, while still being connected. However, it seems that every technological opportunity comes with its own technological challenges. One of the challenges with a Wi-Fi network is that it can be less secure than a wired network.

As explained in more detail in our video, fact sheet and checklist, there are several steps you can take to better protect your Wi-Fi network:

  • Turn ON the encryption feature on your wireless router and use WPA2
  • Turn ON your wireless router's firewall
  • Change your wireless router's preset password to something only you know (the longer, the stronger)
  • Customize your network's name (known as a "SSID") with a unique name
  • Turn OFF network identifier broadcasting
  • Set up your "MAC address filter" so only your devices can connect to the network

If these simple steps aren't taken, unauthorized users may be able to access your personal information, view the content of your transmissions, download unlawful content using your network, or infect your computers with viruses or spyware. Unauthorized users may also cause harm to others by sending spam, spyware or viruses, and the activity can be traced back to your network. For more information on this and many other important cybersecurity topics, please visit www.fcc.gov/consumers.

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